'A stain on our harbour': Locals fight Auckland Harbour cruise ship extension

A proposed extension for mega cruise ships to berth in Auckland has been described as "a stain on our harbour".

More than a dozen community groups are fighting to stop a 90-metre extension into the Waitemata - but planners say without it, the city will miss out on tens of millions of dollars. 

At 348m-long, Ovation of the Seas is the largest cruise ship to ever visit Auckland. It's so large it has to berth in the harbour and use smaller tender boats to get passengers ashore.

Auckland Council's development arm, Panuku, has come up with a solution: build a 90m-long extension called a 'mooring dolphin' to the end of Queens Wharf allowing mega cruise ships to dock.

It's been described as an environmental blemish by those who oppose any extension into the harbour.

"We are literally filling in more of the harbour with concrete, and that is not a good thing," says Michael Goldwater from lobby group Stop Stealing Our Harbour. 

Panuku says the $10 million mooring is vital, and would give the tourism industry in Auckland a $30 million boost over 10 years. 

"Clearly the cruise industry is producing more larger ships, and they're wishing to come here more frequently," says Panuku cruise ship advisor John Smith.

"So unless we're in a position to berth them alongside, both Auckland will miss out and the rest of New Zealand will miss out."

On Monday, community groups got a chance to voice their disapproval at an independent hearing. 

"These dolphins are just going in for these big ships that only come five to seven times a year for a day and then leave," says Urban Auckland chairperson Julie Stout. 

She says the development of Queens Wharf will be held up for a decade if it goes ahead.

"Panuku, who are the people charged with being the visionaries of our city, just come up with short term ad hoc wrong solutions."

But Ports of Auckland says it's already declined 22 cruise ship bookings because there's been no space.

"The real damage is the overall growth of the industry will start to slow and potentially decline because the older ships are replaced by new ships and they can't fit," says Mr Smith. 

The independent commissioners will make their decision next month, and if approved it could be built in time for next summer's cruise season.